Debut CEO Charlie Taylor gives The Mancunion his best job interview tips for new graduates
The graduate job hunt can be daunting. Facing hundreds of fresh-faced graduates with similar qualifications, all vying for the same positions… it’s utterly terrifying.
With the media regularly reminding new graduates how tough it is out there, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the job hunt also represents an exciting new start and even a chance to show yourself off. The Mancunion spoke to Charlie Taylor, founder of graduate recruitment app Debut, to get his best interview tips. Considering he has just made the Forbes 30 under 30, I reckon he has got some wisdom to share. Here is what he had to say:
Study yourself: You may be a smooth talker or consider yourself to have the ‘gift of the gab’ but never attempt to wing an interview. Before you throw yourself into an interview setting, take the time to study yourself. Consider how friends, family, bosses and lecturers perceive you: what do they consider your strengths or weaknesses? Know yourself inside out and practice boiling down those key strengths to a sharp, succinct one-liner before you go in.
Diversify your CV: You have every right to be proud of winning runner-up in your school’s ‘painting with watercolour competition’ 9 years ago, but consider how relevant it is to your CV. You have to show diversification in your experiences; show how you seek out new experiences on a regular basis. Did some volunteering? Joined an obscure new society at university? Went freediving? Use it to liven up your CV beyond the usual education, employment, and skills layout.
Share stories, not lies: You’ve probably been told at least once that it’s okay to lie on an application, and the temptation is understandable. Even if you’ve convinced yourself (shame on you) that it is OK to lie, you’re putting yourself at risk, as interviewers know how to sniff out the truth and will be ready to pounce on any slip-ups. Rather than setting yourself up for failure, think about the details of the experience you want to talk about. Practice anecdotes — a little theatrical flourish on a thought-out story will get you a lot further than an insubstantial lie.
Study history and culture: Taking a look through the company website is a no-brainer before heading into an interview and what you know about the business is a question that’s bound to be raised. A little more effort, however, can go a long way. Put those Sherlock skills to good use with a little social media stalking. Check out your interviewer’s LinkedIn and see if you share any interests. Also, explore the company culture beyond the ‘About’ page (which probably hasn’t been updated since 1998).
Don’t just think, speak: Once you have completed your research and undertaken a bit of social media investigation, it’s time to talk through your interview. Practice your answers out loud into the mirror, or, if you’re embarrassed your flatmates will think you’re losing your marbles, rope them in to help. It may feel silly, but having someone run through the questions with you will help immensely (and prepare you well for those dreaded ‘role play’ interviews).
Look around: If you get a chance, take a quick trip to the area you are interviewing in, or arrive early and take a wander around. When you get through the door, make a comment about the locality: perhaps you spotted a nice park or café nearby you can ask about. Starting with a quick casual comment will show you are at ease and will put the interviewer in a conversational mood — remember, they don’t want it to be awkward either.
There’s always some truth in a cliché: Everyone’s heard it, but: be yourself. Interviewers want to meet you, not just a sales sheet of awards and achievements. It’s not going to be the same as hanging out with your mates, but show some humour and relatability alongside your professionalism — you’ll be surprised by the impact that can have. Once you’re prepared, let genuine excitement, interest and confidence carry you through!